Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the European Union in Brussels on Thursday, just hours after receiving France’s highest honor, the “Legion of Honor,” from President Emmanuel Macron.
In her opening remarks, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told Zelensky, “Your leadership has inspired your people, and inspired every corner of the globe.”
“Welcome to Brussels,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wrote in a tweet prior to the event. “The heart of the European family, in which Ukraine belongs. We will support Ukraine every step of the way towards our Union,” she added.
???? Welcome to Brussels, dear @ZelenskyyUa
The heart of the European family, in which Ukraine belongs.
We will support Ukraine every step of the way towards our Union. pic.twitter.com/eELXeZYmM5
— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) February 9, 2023
The Ukrainian leader arrived in Brussels early Thursday after talks that began the night before in Paris with Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
????Macron awarded @ZelenskyyUa with the Legion of Honor, the highest award in France. pic.twitter.com/yCwCR0VFjy
— UkraineWorld (@ukraine_world) February 9, 2023
Macron told Zelensky at the meeting in Élysée presidential palace that France will “stand firmly by Ukraine” in its war against Russia.
“Russia cannot and must not win this war,” Macron said at a joint news conference with Zelensky and Scholz.
“As long as Russia continues to attack, we will continue to adapt and moderate the necessary military support to preserve Ukraine and its future,” he said, declaring that France is “determined to help Ukraine to victory and the re-establishment of its legitimate rights.”
Macron added that Paris would “continue its efforts” to deliver arms to Kyiv.
Scholz delivered similar remarks, telling Zelensky that Europe will support Ukraine in the war for “as long as necessary,” adding that Ukraine “belongs to the European family.”
The German leader predicted that the leaders of 27 European Union states who were set to meet in a summit on Thursday would express their strong solidarity with Ukraine.
“Yesterday . . . we discussed the capabilities of supplying Ukraine with the necessary weapons, continuing economic and political support and strengthening sanctions policy against the aggressor state,” Zelensky wrote in a post on his official Telegram channel.
“We talked about the implementation of the Peace Formula, which can ensure a steadfast end to the war on fair terms and in compliance with international law.
“It was a great honor for me to receive the highest award from the President of France – the Legion of Honor. This is a decoration for all Ukrainians, our heroic people, and our society. Thank you!”
Zelensky also met in Paris with members of the “United24” charity platform that collects funds to help Ukraine rebuild the country after destruction caused by invading Russian forces. The platform has already accumulated almost $300 million from “ordinary people and companies from over a hundred countries,” Zelensky wrote Thursday morning. “I am grateful to each and every one for such support!”
The Ukrainian president had also spent much of the day Wednesday meeting in London with top British officials on the first leg of his European diplomatic tour, including Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and King Charles III, and addressed a joint session of the British Parliament as well.
Sunak said Britain’s Challenger II tanks are set to deploy next month in Ukraine, adding that the Ukrainian crews who arrived in the UK for training last week will be using those tanks “to defend Ukraine sovereign territory.”
At least 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers have already been trained by the UK in the past six months, and more are now expected to be trained, this time also on NATO-standard fighter jets.